Left, Sister Barbara Ann Hoying in the chapel at Maria Stein Shrine; right, Sisters Nancy Wolf and Barbara Ann Hoying arriving at the 175th Anniversary celebration of the Sisters of the Precious Blood at Maria Stein Shrine in 2009; file photos.
As a child growing up in Carthagena, Ohio, Sister Barbara Ann (M. Emma) Hoying regularly visited the nearby Maria Stein Shrine with her family. It was through those visits that she grew to love the place and appreciate the spirituality of the Precious Blood Sisters who lived and worked there.
Those feelings deepened as Sister Barbara Ann grew up and entered the community herself, inspired by the Precious Blood Sisters who taught her in Coldwater schools. She began her ministry as a teacher, something she envisioned as a child, and later earned a master’s in religious education from Fordham University. She directed religious programs and taught religious classes in New Carlisle, ran the Maria Stein Retreat House and worked at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati.
Sixteen years ago, she was asked to return to Maria Stein as director of the shrine, formerly called Maria Stein Center. For the last two years she served as director of mission and spirituality at the shrine, before retiring in June.
“It was important for me that visitors understood that the shrine was a very early place where the Sisters worked but also prayed,” Sister Barbara Ann said. “It was important for me to continue work in the spirituality and continue our legacy in the area.”
The Precious Blood Sisters came to Maria Stein in 1846, two years after they arrived in the United States. Parts of the shrine complex date to the late 19th century. Maria Stein served as the Sisters’ motherhouse until they built a new central house in Dayton in 1923.
“Maria Stein is a place of prayer and spirituality, of faith in God,” Sister Barbara Ann said. “It’s been very important to me to be a part of that.”
Through her various ministries, Sister Barbara Ann has sought to help people recognize the action of God in their lives and pursue that in their personal growth.
While working at Maria Stein was a key part of her ministry, Sister Barbara Ann also enjoyed her years as a primary school teacher. She taught in Missouri, Cleveland and was then sent to Falls Church, Virginia, just across from Washington, D.C. She recalls President Kennedy’s assassination and his funeral in Washington. It remains a poignant memory.
In her retirement, Sister Barbara Ann plans to provide spiritual direction and to volunteer as needed. She is one of three Sisters who live in an intentional community in Minster. The Sisters live and worship together.
“I fully embrace the vowed religious life and the ministry that flows from that commitment,” Sister Barbara Ann said. “I have gained so much. It is humbling to be part of the life of God in others.”
– Story by Dave Eck